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Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition Paperback – August 22, 1994

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691037790 ISBN-10: 0691037795 Edition: Expanded Paperback

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Original and important.... The essays by Taylor and the other contributors raise the debate to a new level, providing it with the high moral seriousness it deserves."--Lawrence Blum, Boston Review

"Multiculturalism ... is packed with depth, intelligence, and (to revive an old-fashioned word) wisdom.... It is highly relevant to pressing debates about nationalism and its identity."--Michael Saward, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"[Taylor's] comments about multiculturalism in particular demonstrate his knack for finding sensible middle ground between unreasonable extremes.... His writing here is clear, direct, and refreshingly free of philosophical jargon. He is also delightfully nonpartisan."--David McCabe, Commonweal

"Multiculturalism . . . is packed with depth, intelligence, and (to revive an old-fashioned word) wisdom. . . ."--Michael Saward, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"[Taylor's] comments about multiculturalism . . . demonstrate his knack for finding sensible middle ground between unreasonable extremes. . . . His writing here is clear, direct, and refreshingly free of philosophical jargon. He is also delightfully nonpartisan."--David McCabe, Commonweal

". . . engaging, thought-provoking, suggestive, full of insights on questions of intellectual history, philosophical and moral psychology, and current issues in political philosophy and practice."--Ethics

"Because it impinges upon so much--from campus speech to bilingual education to the causes and effects of political correctness--the current discussion on multiculturalism is essential to understanding Western academic culture as it exists today (and as it will exist in the future). This book is a valuable guide to the complexities involved."--Washington Times
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 175 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Expanded Paperback edition (August 22, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691037795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691037790
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Charles Taylor's classic essay "The Politics of Recognition" that constitutes the heart of this book along with the several excellent responses to it remains at the center of the philosophical and political discussions of multiculturalism. Taylor's main contribution to the debate was to link the debate to the concept of authenticity, arguing that an individual's sense of self requires not merely a social context but respect that affirms them. Because group identity is a crucial aspect of one's sense of self, to have one's tradition or group recognized and respected becomes crucial. Taylor therefore concludes that under certain circumstances the state may intervene with prejudice to protect a group or provide it with special benefits. He situates this very contemporary position in the context of the history of the notion of authenticity as it has developed in Western culture.

Taylor's essay comprises, along with editor Amy Gutman's introduction, around half the book. The bulk of the volume consists of a number responses that were contained in the original publication of the book as well as two subsequent essays that were added to a later addition. All of these are, to speak truthfully, absolutely first rate, though they are of varying usefulness. Most of the first edition essays merely amend Taylor's original arguments. Why I think they make important alterations to his essay, none of them reach the heart of it. To be frank, Taylor is a wonderfully engaging, persuasive writer. Even if one has troubles with many of his core ideas, nonetheless even the most disengaged reader will agree with a host of his insights. If he errs, he does not err wildly.

The final two essays do take issue with Taylor on a deeper level.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
One web page which I recently encountered urged the USA to adopt an official policy of multiculturalism, and thereby become the first great nation to make this postmodern leap; ahead of the U.K., and all of the other states which have considered such a move. Yet Canada and Australia have been formally self-designated as multicultural states for decades. What has been the result, and what does multiculturalism offer other pluralist states, such as the United States, in the 21st century? After all, some say that the end of the 'melting pot' would be the end of national unity in America, while others feel it would truly be the begining. In this book, neither the 'potential for utopia', nor the 'armageddon scenario' of multicultural policies will be appeased. Professor Charles Taylor examines the implications of state-enshrined multiculturalism, and then opens the floor to several of the world's leading intellectuals (including Jurgen Habbermas) to debate the topic in this 'heady' little book. The result is rather surprising. Rather than narrowing in on the details of the Canadian or Australian experiences with the policy, the book explores the entire developement of modern liberalism which lead to such policies, and devotes many pages to the argument concerning whether such policies weaken individual rights, while creating collective rights. This is not a manual for extremists, on either side of the debate, but it should aid those who seek to peer deeply beneath the surface of multicultural policies unearthing their philosophical base. The implications of such policies are widely considered, and for a wide range of groups across North America and Europe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 20, 2015
Format: Paperback
The Preface to this 1994 book states, “This volume was first conceived to mark the inauguration of the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Founded in 1990, the University Center supports teaching, research, and public discussions of fundamental questions concerning moral values that span traditional academic disciplines.”

The book begins with Charles Taylor’s essay, ‘The Politics of Recognition,’ which is followed by comments by three other academics. Then is added an essay by German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, and another essay by Afro-American Studies professor K. Anthony Appiah.

Taylor begins his essay with the statement, “A number of strands in contemporary politics turn on the need, sometimes the demand, for RECOGNITION. The need, it can be argued, is one of the driving forces behind nationalist movements in politics. And the demand comes to the fore in a number of ways in today’s politics, on behalf of minority or ‘subaltern’ groups, in some forms of feminism and in what is today called the politics of ‘multiculturalism.’” (Pg. 25)

He states, “In order to understand the close connection between identity and recognition, we have to take into account a crucial feature of the human condition that has been reduced almost invisible by the overwhelmingly monological bent of mainstream modern philosophy. This crucial feature of human life is its fundamentally DIALOGICAL character. We become full human agents, capable of understanding ourselves, and hence of defining our identity, through our acquisition of rich human languages of expression… The genesis of the human mind is in this sense not monological, not something each person accomplishes on his or her own, but dialogical.” (Pg.
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